DOHA: The fast growing expatriate workforce in Qatar has posed major occupational health hazards and challenges, leading to a rise in work-related accidents and injuries and over-burdening of the healthcare facilities in
A major contributing factor to occupational health problems is the high number of unskilled workers being employed in the country as elsewhere in
“As we know very well, workers are coming continuously to Qatar in large numbers to support the large number of development and expansion projects in the country. According to United Nations Human Development Report 2009, Qatar has one of the highest percentage of foreign workers as migrants, accounting as much as 80 percent of the country’s population,”
Dr Mohammed Al Thani, director of the Department of Public Health at the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said, opening a workshop on occupational health at SCH premises yesterday.
“The number of immigrants in Qatar is expected to hit 1.35 million by next year and this expanding number is causing the public healthcare sector — like the Hamad Medical Corporation and the primary health centres to be over-burdened,” added Al Thani.
The Labour Law of Qatar No. 14 of the year 2004; Article 105 says “periodic medical test shall be conducted for workers exposed to work-related injury or disease”.
Considering the estimated 1.35 million workers, it is becoming a challenge for the DPH to handle this, added Al Thani.
He hoped that much of the burden will be taken off DPH if Article No. 104 of the Labour Law is fully implemented. This Article says that “if the numbers of workers in any establishment exceeds 100, the employer shall appoint a full time medical nurse and if the number exceeds 500 then they should provide at least a physician and a nurse.”
The workshop attended by representatives from SCH, HMC, Labour Department, Ministry of Environments, Qatar Petroleum and several other organisations, discussed ways to improve the occupational health services
Al Thani said the Occupational Health Section at SCH is set for a major expansion to meet the requirements of the growing expatriate workforce in the country. “As of now, the occupational Health Section of DPH has very limited resources in terms of both manpower and space. It is our priority in expanding the capacity of this section to handle many more workers and also to provide more services. We urge all stake holders to assist and work in collaboration with this section. Without your support, no matter how big we become, we cannot be successful in achieving our targets,” said Al Thani.
Dr Ahmad Al Shatti, Consultant, Occupational and Environmental Health, WHO- EMRO stressed the importance of educating workers about work site safety and standards noting that a large number of expatriate workers in the Gulf countries are unskilled.“They are employed in jobs where they had no previous experience. They are ignorant about the safety measures and standards. There is a need to communicate with these people in their own languages and educate them,” said Al Shatti.
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